ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Evan Longoria hit three home runs and the Tampa Bay Rays beat Baltimore 4-1 Wednesday, ending the Orioles’ bid to force a one-game tiebreaker for the AL East title.
The loss on the final day of the regular season left the Orioles as a wild-card team. They’ll play Friday at Texas, with the winner advancing to the division series.
Baltimore began the day one game behind the New York Yankees in the division. The Orioles needed a win, plus a loss by the Yankees to Boston, to pull even.
Longoria finished the season with a bang for the second straight year, hitting solo shots off Chris Tillman in the first and fourth innings and adding another solo shot off Jake Arrieta in the sixth.
With a chance to tie the major league record of four homers in a game, Longoria grounded out in the eighth.
Longoria’s second career three-homer game came a year after the three-time All-Star hit two of them of the final night of last season, including a 12th-inning game-ending shot that clinched a postseason berth. His bid for the first four-homer game in franchise history ended when he grounded out against Pedro Strop in the eighth.
Ryan Roberts also homered for the Rays in the fourth against Tillman (9-3).
Jeremy Hellickson (10-11) gave up one hit – Adam Jones’ fourth-inning single – in 5 1/3 innings. Jake McGee, Wade Davis, Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney teamed to hold the Orioles to two hits the rest of the way.
Jones ruined Tampa Bay’s shot at a 16th shutout with a sacrifice fly off Peralta. After Wieters singled, Rodney was summoned to get the final out for his 48th save in 50 opportunities.
Chris Davis, who tied an Orioles record when he homered for the sixth straight game on Tuesday night, went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.
The Rays won 12 of 14 down the stretch, remaining in contention for the second AL wild card until the 160th game and finished with at least 90 wins for the third season.